Hand and Foot Card Game

OBJECTIVE OF HAND AND FOOT: Play the hand and foot while making the needed melds.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2-7 players

NUMBER OF CARDS: Five 54-card decks (52 cards + 2 Jokers)

RANK OF CARDS: A,K,Q,J,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2

TYPE OF GAME: Canasta/Rummy

AUDIENCE: Adult


INTRODUCTION TO HAND AND FOOT

Hand and Foot card game is a game related to Canasta. In Hand and Foot, players are dealt two sets of cards: the hand, which is played with first, and the foot, which is played after. This game does not have standard rules and is played with a variety of variations. The game generally has 4 players consisting of 2 partnerships. However, this game can be played with any number of people. This game is also closely related to Pennies From Heaven.

The instructions below are best fit for a 4 player game with partners.

PLAYERS, CARDS, & THE DEAL

Hand and Foot is typically played as a partner game, partners sit across from each other at the table. Choose one pair to deal first. They must shuffle the cards then one person takes the deck. The dealer proceeds to deal each player a stack of 13 cards and pass them clockwise until each player has a hand. The other partner does the same and deals each player the foot. These two stacks of cards must remain separate.

The remaining cards are put in the center of the table and form the stock pile. The top card is flipped over face-up beside it and starts the discard pile. If the card happens to be a 3 or a Joker (wild card) it is buried within the stock and a new card is flipped over.

‘Foot’ stacks are to be placed around the stock and the discard pile. Players pick up their ‘hand.’ The play begins with the ‘hand’ dealer.

The deal passes left and the game consists of four deals total.

MELDING

The objective of Hand and Foot is to get rid of all your cards by forming them into melds as in any traditional rummy game. A meld is formed with 3 to 7 cards of equal rank. A seven card meld is called a book or a pile. Books are squared up, unlike a fanned meld still in the process of being added to. The card on top of the book indicates the kind of meld (discussed below): red card for clean books, black card for dirty books, and a joker for wild books. Typically, one partner has the completed melds, in addition to red threes, in front of them and the other has the incomplete melds.

The cards are placed face-up on the table in front of the player. In this variation of Rummy, melds belong to partners as opposed to the individual player. This means either player in a partnership may add to any of the melds they both create, unless the meld has reached seven cards.

Players score points for cards they have melded and lose points for cards left in hand. The play ceases once one player has managed to play both their ‘hand’ and ‘foot’ in totality. That player has ‘gone out.’ There are three conditions player’s must satisfy before going out:

  1. The partnership must have completed 2 dirty books, 2 clean books, and 1 wild book.
  2. One player in the partnership has picked up their ‘foot’ and played at least a single turn from it. (The one who hasn’t played their total foot)
  3. You must receive permission from your partner to go out, meld the remainder of your cards but one, and discard the last card. If your partner denies you, you may not go out.

Red & Black Threes

Melds are formed with cards from A to 4. Threes, however, may not be melded in a normal way.

Red Threes count for a player if it is laid down on the table with their melds, however, it counts against them if it is not. Red threes should be immediately placed face up on the table and a new card must be drawn from the stock. Red threes may be found in your hand, drawn from the stock, found in the foot, or picked from the discard. If your opponents ‘go out’ (get rid of all their cards) before you have grabbed your ‘foot,’ and there is a red three present, that three counts against you.

Black Threes can only be used to block the next player from picking out the discard after you discard it. Black threes left in your hand count for minus five points on your score. Black threes cannot be played- only discarded.

Twos & Jokers

Twos and Jokers are wild cards. Wild cards may be used to substitute any card in a meld, granted there are twice as many natural cards in the meld as there are wild cards. A meld may be made entirely of wild cards, though. This type of meld is required before ‘going out’ and winning a particular deal.

Types of Melds

  • Clean melds have no wild cards present.
  • Dirty melds have at least a single wild card, and no more than one if the meld has less than 6 cards.
  • Wild melds have only wild cards present.

CARD VALUES

Below are the values of cards in the game. These values count for you if they are melded and against you if they are not at the end of the game.

Jokers: 50 points each

2s & Aces: 20 points each

8-King: 10 points each

4-7: 5 points each

Black 3s: 5 points each

Bonus Points

Both teams can collect bonus points in addition to the card values. Red threes count 100 points toward your score if they are on the table and 100 points against your score if they are in hand.

Each Clean Book: 500 points

Each Dirty Book: 300 points

Wild Book: 1500 points

‘Going Out’: 100 points

Each Red 3: 100 points

Meld Minimum

Each deal poses a minimum requirement for the total point value of the cards which make up the first meld created in a partnership.

Deal 1: 50 points

Deal 2: 90 points

Deal 3: 120 points

Deal 4: 150 points

Red 3s and complete book bonuses do not count.

THE PLAY

Play begins with the player to the left of the ‘hand’ dealer and passes clockwise. Play continues until someone ‘goes out.’ Before your turn, red threes must be placed face-up on the table. The number of red threes placed on the table must be replaced by and an equal amount of cards drawn from the stock.

Taking Turns

A typical turn consists of:

  1. Drawing two cards form the top of the stock pile.
  2. Melding cards- start a meld or add to a meld (yours or your partners)
  3. Discard a single card to the top of the discard pile, face-up.

Red threes drawn from the stock must be directly placed face-up on the table and a new card must be drawn from the stock pile.

You may not start a new meld and meld cards on your turn you must choose which action you wish to do

If you do not wish to draw two cards from the stock you may draw seven cards from the discard. The whole pile may be collected if it contains less than seven cards. If you wish to draw from the discard these are the following requirements:

  1. The top card of the discard cannot be a (black) three
  2. You must hold 2 cards of equal rank as the top card of the discard
  3. (At least) three cards must be immediately melded: 2 of equal rank already in hand and the top of the discard

Complete turn by discarding a single card to the discard pile.

The first meld set down on the table must meet the minimum meld value requirement (this is the total sum of the value of the cards played). Multiple melds may be started to reach this point requirement. If you are picking up from the discard pile, the three mandatory cards to meld may count toward this stipulation, however, the other 6 cards drawn do not count. Cards in the initial meld may be wild cards.

Partners are not permitted to have two incomplete melds of equal rank. A book must be completed before a new meld of equal value is started.

The ‘Foot’

After you get rid of all the cards your ‘hand’ you may pick up your ‘foot,’ and continuing playing as usual. The foot may be picked up in one of two ways: all cards in the ‘hand’ are melded, the foot is pick up, and a single card from it is discarded OR all but one card of the ‘hand’ is melded, the last card is discarded, and the foot is picked up.

In this version of Hand and Foot there is no penalty for discarding a wild card in order to get to the foot.

END GAME

The play ceases when either:

  • A player successfully goes out, under the stipulations discussed above OR
  • the stock pile is depleted and players do not wish to draw from the discard.

If your partner does not permit you to go out, after melding you must have two cards left: one to discard and one to continue playing with.

At the end of the game player’s score their books and melds, including bonuses that apply. The team with the greatest number of points after four deals wins.

REFERENCES:

http://www.rummy-games.com/rules/hand-and-foot-canasta.html
http://www.gocampingamerica.com/blog/how-play-card-game-hand-and-foot
https://www.pagat.com/rummy/handfoot.html

OTHER RESOURCES:

Did you know that your skills in this game can help with the card game blackjack?

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24 thoughts on “Hand and Foot Card Game”

  1. When trying to get to the foot can you make a book with a wild card and then add another card all in the same turn in order to get rid of cards to pick up foot?

    • Hi Sandy, there are no restrictions on how many cards a player can be melded in a turn. If you complete a book and are still able to play a meld this is legal. However, no more than 7 cards can be added to a meld. When a meld reaches 7 cards it is a book, and can not be added to.

    • Hello Theresa,

      In this version of Hand and Foot there is no penalty for discarding a wild card in order to get to the foot.

    • Hi Carol, I do not believe there is a set penalty for this in Hand and Foot. I would suggest offending players must pick back up the wrongly melded cards into their hands. I suppose any kind of penalty could be set into place at the start of the game as long as all players agreed upon it. I hope this helps!

    • Hi Terry, I do not believe so. In hand and Foot a player may draw 2 cards from the stockpile, or 7 cards from the discard pile as long as they follow the needed requirements to do so. A player cannot choose to draw less than 7 from the discard (but may end up drawing less if there are not 7 cards in the pile to begin with) and cannot split their draws between the two piles.

    • Hi Sue, I believe I understand your question but correct me if I am wrong. In your example, you are trying to make a meld of seven 5s, two 4s, and a wild card. This is impossible for a few reasons. A meld must consist of cards all of the same rank, and can only consist of 7 cards in total. You could make two separate melds with the cards in your hand. A completed book of 5s and a meld of two 4s with a wild card.

  2. If you have to discard a wild card what is the option of the next player to pick up that wild card? Do they have to have 2 wild cards to pick up or just 2 of any kind of cards to pick up.

    • Hi Patti, because the rules state that the cards have to be of equal rank of the card drawn, I would say you have to have two cards of the same rank to draw the wild. All three cards have to be melded that turn in regards to the other rules for drawing the wild from the discard pile.

    • Hi Carolyn, while not required, I often use a scoring sheet to make scoring easier. The scaring is only done once during the game though, at the ends, so a cumulative or running score is not kept.

    • Hi Jodi, to answer your question, yes. In order to go out three requirements need to be met. One, the players must have completed all the needed books. Two, both players need to have their feet and the player not going out must have played at least one turn from it. Three, the partner of the going out player must agree for them to go out.

  3. Can a wild card book be laid without all seven cards and added to throughout that hand?

    When a wild card is used to freeze the deck how long is the deck frozen even though seven cars above it have been removed?

    • Hi Al, hopefully I understand your question but if not let me know. To complete a wild book 7 wild cards are need. A book is just a meld until a 7th card is played. To answer your first question, yes you can play a wild meld and add to it throughout the game, but a wild book must have 7 wild cards in it. The second question I am a bit confused by. I don’t think there is any freezing of the deck in this game, maybe you are thinking of Canasta?

  4. In hand and foot, if a card in the stock pile is accidentally face up, do you take the card when it is your time to draw or bury it in the stack?

    • Hi Lynette, if you find a faceup card in the stockpile after the game is underway, I would look through the remaining stock to make sure there were no other cards faceup and reshuffle. Burying it would also be a suitable action, as long as all other cards are facedown in the stockpile.

  5. Recently the opposing team “went out” and I and my partner had 75 points combined in our hands. We only had 50 points in melds on the table as all other melds had been made into books. We also had 4 red threes. We wanted to to take a red three off the table (minus 100) and keep 25 of the points in our hand to count (plus 25). This would equal a net minus 75 points. The other couple said we could not do that and had to break up a book to cover the 25 point difference, thus costing us the 300 point bonus for that book. Or break up a clean book and lose 500 points. I should note we keep score on a “net basis”. Example: If one team has three dirty books and the other has four, the team with four only gets 300 bonus points. The team with three books gets zero bonus points. Your thoughts?

    • Hi Bob, so I don’t think I understand the question, but I will try to answer things based on my knowledge and understanding. Please let me know if this does not help and I will do everything I can to answer your question correctly. I am not sure how you are getting the forth red three, red threes cannot be melded traditionally so if you were holding a red three or drew it, it should already be played on the table. Secondly, I have never heard of breaking a book for any reason, so I am not sure what your friends were referring to with this. Also, the game should end once a team goes out, so if your friends have already gone out, you would not get to place any more red threes from hand or make melds at all. Hopefully, this helps, but if not let me know.

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